Excuses are like Armpits

Excuses are like armpits. Everybody has them… and they all stink!

One of my teachers told my class this back in grade school, and I’ve remembered it ever since. As a society, we have developed the uncanny ability to point fingers, make up white lies, or even shift blame, if it means that we can magically make something not our fault. In reality, people generally appreciate us taking responsibility for our actions instead of creating elaborate stories.

Excuses can be developed in the work life, social life, and even in our own personal lives. However, there is no difference in the consequence. By not holding ourselves accountable for our actions (or lack thereof), we are doing nothing more than crippling our abilities. Of course there are things that we all don’t want to do, and we all make mistakes, but whatever the excuse is, it’s not helping us learn. These are the most common types of excuses:

  • What we say: My dog ate my homework. Ahhh, the classic I-didn’t-do-what-I-was-supposed-to excuse. So maybe we didn’t finish our homework or that presentation for work, so the best option is to come up with a white lie in hopes of getting an extension or getting out of it all together. Right? Wrong!
  • What we SHOULD say: Be honest. Tell your boss or your teacher what was so pressing that you didn’t have time to complete the task. You might be out of luck if it was solely due to procrastination, but whoever you’re telling will appreciate your honesty. This isn’t their first rodeo, and they know your dog didn’t eat your homework (who came up with that excuse anyways?).
  • What we say: I don’t have any idea how that really expensive machine broke. I didn’t touch it! Often we make up lies if we know we did something wrong. We are afraid we will get in trouble or lose our responsibilities.
  • What we SHOULD say: Again, be honest. Say something like Hey boss man or boss lady, I was working with the machine today and hit the “I will break if you push me” button by accident. What can I do to help fix it? Taking accountability for your actions is a must, but we should also offer to fix our mistakes. Ask them what your options are for overcoming the slip-up, and go above and beyond in proving you can make the situation right again. In every customer service experience I’ve had, the consumer always walks away happier if a problem has been solved than if there was never an issue at all. So solve the problem, even if it is solely for personal satisfaction.
  • What we say: Thanks for the invite, but I actually have this huge project to do… my dog ate my homework last night. Okay, we all have situations we want to avoid or people we don’t want to see. My biggest problem is making commitments when I have too much on my plate, and when it comes down to it I have to make some excuse as to why I can’t make it. For the most part, we all want to be nice. We don’t want to hurts someone’s feelings, so we lie in order to soften the blow. In reality, that just makes the situation worse.
  • What we SHOULD say: Is this honesty thing ringing a bell? If we made plans, but then can’t make it because we double-booked ourselves, then that’s what we should say. Lies only turn into more lies which ultimately turn into leading a double life (and that’s only cool if you’re in the FBI… or if you’re Spiderman). Similarly, if someone asks you to do something and you don’t want to, or you are too busy, it is much easier to say that upfront. Don’t say yes out of politeness and have to cancel later. This was my forte there for a while, but I’ve since gotten much better!
  • What we say (to ourselves): I can’t go to the gym today because it’s already 4:00 and by the time I get there I won’t be able to use any of the machines because it will be so busy, and plus I went last week, and I’m sure I’ll go tomorrow, and I’ll do at least three sit-ups tonight to make up for it. Sometimes we lose our motivation and start making up excuses as to why we can’t do things. We all do it.
  • What we SHOULD say: I’m not going to the gym because I feel like being lazy. Maybe I should just go since making up excuses doesn’t burn calories. We can lie to ourselves all we want, but if anyone knows we’re lying, it’s us! If something is important to us, we will make time for it.

I’m sure there are many more derivatives of the excuses we can make in our lives. The common theme to avoiding them is the honesty route. Be truthful to yourself, your coworkers, your boss, your friends, and even the people you just meet. You don’t want your first impression from others to be stamped with “big liar face.”

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” – Benjamin Franklin

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6 thoughts on “Excuses are like Armpits

  1. Hi Katie, as the old saying goes: ‘Honesty is the best policy.’ What’s not so obvious is why. One of the reasons is that a lot of stress we experience in our lives is directly related to the excuses we use. As we drop the excuses we will also drop our stress levels. Simple test – try it and see. 🙂

  2. Hi Kati,

    As always, I enjoyed reading your post and giggling out loud, while inside deeply appreciating the truths you reveal.

    The sad part is I have committed each of those sins…more than once.

    Be encouraged!

      • It is the growing part that I’m struggling with. lol

        In all seriousness, I have a deep appreciation for your knowledge and writing skills as you impart your wisdom to us, your readers. You skillfully use humor to anesthetize before you adroitly exercise our woeful Inadequacies. Big thanks and keep it up…we need you.

        Be encouraged!

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